What You Need To Know About College Waitlists

Getting waitlisted by a college can be stressful. It can leave you in a state of limbo, not knowing whether you will eventually be accepted or not. This makes it difficult for you to take a definite decision on your other offers. It can be particularly stressful if you are waitlisted by your first-choice college. Here’s what you need to know about college waitlists.

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Why Colleges Use Waitlists

College waitlists ensure that no seats go vacant in the freshman year.

After assessing all the applications they’ve received, colleges send out acceptance letters to their first choice students. At this time, they are not sure how many of these students will actually accept their offers of admission. They know that for many students, this may be their second or third choice college. If these students receive an offer of admission from their first-choice college, they will turn down this offer. This opens up a spot, which is then offered to a student on the waitlist.

What Are Your Chances Of Getting Accepted?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to evaluate your chances of getting accepted if you are on a college’s waitlist. College waitlists acceptances vary significantly from one year to the next, depending on the number of applicants and the number of students who accept their offer of admission. Several colleges admit that some years they may offer dozens of admissions form the wait list, other years that number may be zero. Not even the college can predict how many students they will accept from the waitlist during any particular year.

What You Should Do Immediately After Receiving a Waitlist Letter

Don’t just scan your waitlist and leave it aside until you hear back from the college. Make sure to read your waitlist letter thoroughly to see if there are any instructions. Some colleges may not require waitlisted students to do anything and they will say so in their letter. Others may require you to formally accept the waitlist offer.

Take time to read and understand what the college requires you to do and follow the instructions meticulously. If they ask you to do nothing, do nothing. If they ask you to send additional documentation, send only what they ask for. Don’t go overboard and send two recommendation letters if they only ask for one. Doing this only shows that you are unable to follow instructions.

What Else You Can Do

If you are really passionate about attending a particular college that waitlisted you, it won’t hurt to let them know it. Send the college a heartfelt letter expressing your genuine interest in attending their school and tell them why. Highlight any accomplishments or awards you’ve won since you filed your application. Give them reason to want to accept you as their student. Make sure not to repeat what you’ve already mentioned in your application. Proofread your letter several times and tweak it to perfection before sending it to the admissions office.

Don’t think of being waitlisted as a personal failure. Your application was not rejected. It was good enough to make it to the waitlist. Unfortunately, several other factors, completely out of your control, went into the decision not to accept your application outright. Hold out hope that they will reconsider after your last email but keep your other options open. Keep a cutoff date for hearing back from the college. If you don’t hear from them by the deadline, reconsider your other acceptance offers. Accept your second best offer and move on. It may just turn out to be the best choice for you after all.

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